A simple and safe additive could cut agrochemical pollution

Research Excellence | Strategy 9: Knowledge Exchange
Theme: Innovation
Photo by Jan Kopřiva on Unsplash

Adding a simple polymer to fertilizers or pesticides (agrochemicals) could dramatically reduce agricultural pollution, suggests a new study by researchers at the University of British Columbia. 

When agrochemicals are sprayed onto crops, a large amount typically ends up in the surrounding environment due to droplets splashing, rebounding or rolling off the target plants. 

This amount could be cut at least in half by mixing fertilizers and pesticides with a small quantity of polyethylene oxide, a common polymer additive that improves the ability of agrochemical solutions to stick to plant surfaces, the study found.

“Other studies have explored ways to decrease the loss of agrochemicals to the environment,” says Dr. John Frostad, the study lead and a chemical and biological engineering professor at UBC. “But this is the first to quantify the results using realistic spray conditions that can be translated directly from the lab to field applications.”

Please visit the Applied Science website to learn more about the research.

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